The housing and mortgage markets are having a less than robust time these days and that is like an invitation to scam artists who know a thing or two about the real estate business. They generally go for the homeowners struggling with their finances, in other words the ones who are rather susceptible to any sort of a solution that could bail them out. But they also increasingly seek out those who are just plain, payment-making homeowners, preferably with plenty of equity on the property.
One of the latest tricks according to the FBI is house stealing. The whole sequence begins with the owner's identity being swiped. After that the swindler generates a false Social Security card and often other IDs. Now he gets his hands on some needed and widely-available forms, fabricates the necessary signatures, files the paperwork with the local authorities and this way manages to transfer the house to another name.
This maneuver works best on vacant homes, preferably with good equity. Las Vegas for instance has an ample supply of them today, empty bank REOs are all over the place and as a resort destination there are thousands of vacation properties throughout the valley that are only occupied intermittently.
Then comes the real move. The crook now puts the property up for sale, unloads it to a trusting prospect that likes the attractive price and smiles all the way to the bank with his profits. Just like that. In the process the happy home buyer got stung, as did the real owner and the mortgage lender that made the loan.
Identity theft of course continues to be a major problem nowadays. Each and every year over 8 million people become victims and the losses associated with it reach beyond $15 billion annually, according to the Federal Trade Commission. U.S. Secret Service, tasked with prosecuting federal cases, says that half of the time a business was somehow the source of the pilfered private information. Regardless, it pays to keep a wary eye on anything unusual in your financial statements and other official paperwork.